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Loaning Friends Money

By Andrew Burgon /
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October 30, 2013



kozzi / 123RF Stock Photo

Money and Friends Do Not Mix Well. Be Cautious When Loaning Friends Money

Loaning friends money is a bit of a dilemma. There is the alarming potential that they may not be responsible in paying it back.  I have read many stories concerning this on-line and they share a number of common characteristics. Friends who borrow money don’t pay it back in the agreed amount of time. They don’t ask for an extension. They just go quiet. They have to be followed up a lot. This can of course sour friendships,  put them on hold for a long time or even destroy them. The story I’m about to tell illustrates how you can get more than you bargained for helping a friend financially.

‘John’ was my best friend and I sometimes thought of him as a brother. One day at a local coffee shop he told me that he was going to another country to be with his girlfriend and that their things had already been shipped over there. She had already left while he was going to stay for a while longer finishing off a job he was doing.  He admitted that they had overspent in the attempt to move and asked if he could stay at my place for a short while. So John crash landed financially at my place and ended up living with my wife and I for three months. I let him stay for free. He bought his own food.

During that time he loaned money from me a number of times to a total of about $US1300. He said he would pay me back soon. He was doing a job for the government and would be payed more than enough to cover the loan. I also helped line up some temporary work for him as he wasn’t working every day.

For certain reasons after two months my wife had had enough of our guest. I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to leave right away but I eventually brought up the subject and a month later he had left. That made my wife unhappy and in hindsight I wish I had payed more attention to her feelings and asked my friend to leave earlier.

He decided to go down south somewhere for a short while. He said there was some complication about getting the final payment right away so he still owed me.

A few weeks later I reminded him about the money. He said he would try to pay me through a bank but that he was now in the country on a visitor visa so there could be some difficulty forwarding the money. Despite the fact that I told him that if he went to a branch of the bank I’m with he wouldn’t need it he reported back that he wasn’t able to. The bank, however, confirmed with me that my friend could of sent the money without a resident visa.

Next I know he is in America. He said he would try to send it before he left on a security job overseas. No prizes for guessing he didn’t.

When we made contact again he told me he was in another country and only brought a limited amount of money with him. He offered to give me part of it but I didn’t want to inconvenience him (yeah, I know) so I said I would wait. My friend became less and less responsive as time passed. No doubt he was avoiding the issue. He said a number of times he would pay but never did.

The situation became like an itch I couldn’t scratch and continually troubled me especially since he was so far away and there wasn’t much I could do. I ended up having to send a copy of my emails to his facebook, hotmail and yahoo accounts in the hope of connecting with him. Sometimes, I didn’t hear from him in months.

After the two and a half year mark I got really tired of it and wanted closure regardless of whether I got the money or not. I couldn’t get it though because he had a big pile of stuff in my storeroom! I contacted his best friend and told him about John’s luggage. If he wanted it he had to speak up within six months otherwise I would give it to charity.

Sure enough, I got a lightning fast response from John. He apologized and sent me money. To my disappointment though it wasn’t the full amount despite having reminded him a number of times of how much it was. He apologized again and asked me to figure out how much he still owed me. Had it not been for our mutual friend and John’s luggage I probably would of had to of waited a lot longer.

Loaning friends money warrants caution and is probably best avoided for the sake of the friendship. This whole sordid episode in my life was like getting a flying Van Damme kick to the face. It wasn’t so much the money as how irresponsible, lame and insensitive he turned out to be. If you are tempted to help a friend who needs money consider well what your friend is like and whether or not you need to lay down certain conditions. Alternatively, don’t loan money but help your friend other ways if you so wish.

Do you have a story or something to share on loaning friends money?
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